When a property falls into disrepair, or when a person's actions create a public nuisance, it can cause health or safety issues for neighbors. For nuisance violations in unincorporated Lake County, such as tall grass and weeds, junk and debris, animals running at large, noise complaints and minor health violations, there is a new Code Enforcement Hearing process for resolving these cases quickly. Currently, violations found in the Lake County Public Nuisance Ordinance and the Lake County Board of Health Article X - Animal Care & Control, qualify for review under this process. The first Code Enforcement Hearing will be held Monday, June 11, at 2 p.m.
Under the new process, a warning, or notice of violation is issued to a property in violation of a Lake County ordinance, though for some violations like animals running at large, a citation may be issued immediately. The property owner has the opportunity to comply voluntarily, or a Code Enforcement Hearing is scheduled. The property owner must then appear before an administrative hearing officer who reviews the facts of the case, takes testimony, and issues a judgment at the hearing.
Eric Waggoner, Director of the Planning, Building, and Development Department explained that, "The ultimate goal of this process is for property owners to comply voluntarily and the case to be resolved quickly. This will save time and money, but most importantly, it quickly addresses the concerns of neighboring property owners."
Irene Pierce, Executive Director of the Lake County Health Department, is also enthusiastic about the new process, stating that it "will certainly assist our staff in quickly obtaining compliance and resolving health and safety concerns in the community."
Previously, every violation, regardless of the level of complexity, would go through the Circuit Court. While this works well for complicated cases with multiple witnesses or multiple offenses, it can take significant time. For minor offenses, it doesn't always make sense to take it through the Circuit Court. Lake County saw the need for a streamlined process that would take some of the burden off the Courts, and help bring properties into compliance in a timely manner.
Code Enforcement Hearing Resources: